This is one of the best, most profound, non-fiction books I have ever read, and I plan to read it again in the future — maybe a year or so from now. I also need to spend a little time leafing through it and looking at all my highlighted passages and dog-eared pages. It is the type of book that needs time and reflection to let it really sink in.
I was going to say that I wish I had read this book two years ago, but after thinking about it, I have decided that sometimes, reflecting back with the new knowledge and ideas gained from a book may be more edifying than having gone through certain situations with the book’s knowledge in hand (head?). Or, to put it another way, the book probably would not have meant much to me two years ago, whereas now it means a lot.
I have read a few business books, and a few leadership books, but never one written from the viewpoint of how a Christian should be called to lead. Much of what is discussed in the book is leadership in terms of being a pastor, or being the leader of a religious school, but all of the principles can and should be applied to leadership in any situation. And really, as Allender points out, all of us are leaders to some extent, whether it is with our children at home, or any time someone looks to us for guidance in any particular situation.
Just last week I had dinner with a friend who is an agnostic, but had read Wild at Heart (see my post on that here) based on my post about it, but he was able to put aside the religion in the book and still take something away. I applaud him, or anyone, for being able to do that, especially when many of the main themes and examples are all religious based. For any atheist or agnostic leader out there, if you can do that with this book, I would highly recommend it.
It is almost impossible to give a short synopsis of this book, as there is a wealth of information beyond the basic premise that as a leader, it is best to acknowledge your short comings to those you lead (as well as yourself!). But beyond that, there is tremendous wisdom in how to structure an organization, how to grow the people within the organization (in terms of character) and the organization itself, how to create the vision and mission of an organization, etc., etc., etc. Highly highly recommended!
A few quotes that stood out by themselves, but these are just minor one-offs compared to larger sections, themes, and ideas presented throughout the book:
The person who merely puts up with life becomes a manager or a bureaucrat, not a leader.
Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. [ This is Allender quoting G.K. Chesterson…]
We always predict the future by reading the present from a frame of reference that was established in the past.
… a dogmatic religious fundamentalist is more similar to a dogmatic atheist than he is to people who share his beliefs but are still seeking greater clarity in their beliefs. The common link between contradictory ideologies is rigidity or the refusal to remain open to new beliefs and new ways of understanding old convictions.
… growth in character occurs to the degree that we accept being forgiven as a greater gift than life itself. If the greatest gift is not what I see but how I am seen by the living God, then my gratitude knows no limits.